Mail Train


1h 27m 1941

Film Details

Also Known As
Inspector Hornleigh Goes to It
Release Date
Apr 25, 1941
Premiere Information
London opening: 5 May 1941; New York opening: 1 Jul 1941
Production Company
Twentieth Century Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
London, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the BBC radio character "Inspector Hornleigh" created by Hans Wolfgang Priwin.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Film Length
7,863ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

As the long-winded Scotland Yard Inspector Hornleigh dictates his autobiography to Percy Bingham, his long-suffering and slightly dense sergeant, he confides that he expects to be put in charge of a new case investigating fifth columnists. Instead, the commissioner orders Hornleigh and Bingham to enter the Army as privates and uncover a gang of scroungers who have cost the government thousands of pounds every year. Much to Hornleigh's chagrin, his rival, Inspector Blow, is assigned to the espionage case, and the next ten days pass in misery for Hornleigh and Bingham as they undergo basic training. After a particularly grueling march, Bingham is given an afternoon's leave and becomes enamored of barmaid Daisy Johnson, whom he takes boating. The next day, Blow visits Hornleigh and Bingham to ask to whom they have been talking, as the previous night, his officers intercepted a shortwave radio transmission to Germany detailing the pair's undercover investigation. Hornleigh caustically dismisses Blow, then prompts Bingham to admit that he revealed his identity to Daisy. After Bingham confronts Daisy, who denies telling anyone, Hornleigh follows the barmaid as she goes to see dentist C. L. Wilkinson. The dentist shoos Daisy away, but that night, Hornleigh and Bingham sneak into his surgery and discover evidence that he is a spy. Wilkinson returns while they are still there and is quietly murdered without Hornleigh or Bingham seeing the killer. Helen, the dentist's wife, then returns and charms Bingham, who does not notice her picking his pocket and stealing the evidence. Hornleigh deduces that Wilkinson was murdered because he was about to desert the spy ring and, after piecing together several clues, he and Bingham wind up at a boys school in the countryside. There, Hornleigh pretends to be a history teacher and is hired by Dr. Alfred Kerbishley, the headmaster and leader of the spy ring. With the help of Mr. Tomboy, the village postmaster, Hornleigh learns that Kerbishley mails a registered letter to the same address every day. Hornleigh and Bingham arrange to board the night mail train on which the latest letter will travel to London, but, unknown to them, Helen and Kerbishley have discovered their plans, and Kerbishley murders Tomboy in an attempt to recover the letter. Unable to retrieve the letter, Kerbishley telephones his contact as he is about to board the train and warns him about Hornleigh, who is posing as a mail sorter. Hornleigh finds the letter as he is sorting the mail but must leave it when he receives a note summoning him to the aid of Bingham, who is being held captive in his compartment by Helen and Kerbishley. Hornleigh and Bingham succeed in capturing the two spies, and then discover that Joe Busby, the mail supervisor, is secretly in league with Kerbishley and has been using a hidden shortwave transmitter to relay the information that Kerbishley supplies in the registered letters. With the case solved and the spies jailed, Hornleigh and Bingham return to Scotland Yard and are pleased to learn that Blow has been transferred to the scrounging case.

Film Details

Also Known As
Inspector Hornleigh Goes to It
Release Date
Apr 25, 1941
Premiere Information
London opening: 5 May 1941; New York opening: 1 Jul 1941
Production Company
Twentieth Century Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
London, England, Great Britain
Screenplay Information
Based on the BBC radio character "Inspector Hornleigh" created by Hans Wolfgang Priwin.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Film Length
7,863ft (9 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The onscreen credits listed above and details about the first fifteen minutes of this film, which were missing from the print viewed, were taken from a cutting continuity deposited with the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library. Although the opening credits indicate that Twentieth Century Productions, Ltd. copyrighted the film, there is no entry for the picture in the Catalog of Copyright Entries. After the opening credits, a written foreword reads, "The mail train incidents in this story are entirely fictional. G.P.O. safeguards would preclude any such happenings. No reflection is made on any member of the post office staff." The film, which was released in the United Kingdom as Inspector Hornleigh Goes to It, was the sixth and final entry in the "Inspector Hornleigh" series. For more information about the series, please see the entry for Inspector Hornleigh in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.5368.